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Altered cent wasn’t Mint’s doing

Was this done at the U.S. Mint? What is it worth? (See photo at right.)

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this is an obvious alteration, done after the coin left the Mint. There is nothing in the minting process that would look like this.

Did they make thimbles from silver dollars at one time?

A book printed in 1888 describes the process. Coins were melted, rolled to thickness, cut out with a circular punch and shaped over a metal bar.

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What does 20/20 vision mean to a collector?

It means you can read 3/8-inch-high letters at a distance of 20 feet with either eye. Since few of us look at a coin from 20 feet away, it’s much more important to have good close vision and a magnifier.

What is the significance of a medal that appears to be made of copper depicting the frigate Constellation?

The Constellation was the U.S. Navy’s first ship. It lies at anchor in Baltimore, where it is a very popular tourist attraction. To finance the restoration of the ship, the copper spikes used to build it were melted down and the metal used to strike 100,000 of the medals in 1959. The medal entitles its owner to free admission to the ship for life.

I inherited a coin that is an obvious copy of a 1474 Spanish 2 real. Do you know anything about it?

This is one of several rather notorious copies of rare or valuable coins that were produced and widely distributed in the 1960s. In this specific case, these pieces were sent out with letters by the Canadian Pacific Railroad Freight Division in 1968.

What’s the difference between type and variety?

Type is a change of design; variety is a change in the design.

When did the Mint stop refining private gold?

The end came on Dec. 31, 1969. Earlier, the Mint had refined private gold for a fee, and even earlier had struck the gold into coins for the gold’s owner.

What happened to the silver borrowed by the Atomic Energy Commission during World War II?

The Atomic Energy Commission borrowed 65 million ounces from the Treasury stockpile to use in work connected with the atom bombs. The AEC tried to return it in the early 1960s. The Treasury refused to accept it as it was still radioactive. I’ve never been able to follow up on this story, so I assume that somewhere there’s a stash of silver worth billions of dollars that’s still ticking.


Are there any tokens that are redeemable in gold?

Arlie Slabaugh lists a Philippines token from the Lackawana Manufacturing Co., good for $2 in gold, and a Harry C. Kahn & Son piece valued at $5 in gold. They were issued before gold was recalled in 1933, the Philippines piece dating to around 1900. Also, there is a rare Alaskan piece with a gold nugget attached, good for $1 in merchandise.

Can you trace the origin of troy weight?

The term comes from the city of Troyes in France. It was a major trading center with its own weights and measures. The primary weight in the troy system was the gram.

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